January 9, 2024
Erosion of local and public nursing homes a serious concern – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called out Government inaction, which has led to the loss of many public, not-for-profit, and small local private nursing homes since 2020.

Teachta Cullinane shared concerns aired by the ESRI that Government policy has led to just 14 operators providing 40% of nursing home beds, stating that there are 1000 fewer public beds in the sector than in 2014 despite our ageing population.

The TD for Waterford said that the ESRI’s findings must be a wake-up call for Government to rapidly develop public community nursing unit capacity and revise the Fair Deal funding mechanism to ensure the viability of high quality local community providers, both not-for-profit and small private homes.

He added that Government must also invest in expanding home care alternatives, which is the preferred option of many older people jowho would prefer to remain in their own home.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The erosion of public and local not-for-profit as well as small private nursing homes is of very serious concern. More and more of these homes are disappearing by the month and, in many cases, are not being replaced. Counties with the lowest Fair Deal rates are being left far behind, and there has been far from adequate investment in home-care alternatives.

“The Government has turned away from investing in the sector. The Government has not invested in rebuilding public capacity, and the ESRI report is warning that this will lead to difficulties as the sector becomes dominated by private equity-backed corporate providers.

“Since 2014, there are 1,000 fewer public nursing home beds, despite a rapidly ageing population. The Government has dragged its feet on public capacity, and the system is more reliant on the private sector than ever before.

“Government has no joined-up plan for care for older people. This is being taken advantage of by a private market which is becoming dominated by a small number of providers, which are replacing traditional not-for-profit, public, and local private providers at a rapid pace.

“The first priority must be to develop public capacity, such as Sinn Féin’s proposal to develop 600 additional public nursing home beds.

“Sinn Féin would prioritise a collective pay agreement across the sector to protect wages and standards, to include nursing homes and home care. We would review the Fair Deal mechanism to ensure viability for high quality small providers, to reflect the increasing complexity of care, and to address regional imbalances. We would also increase funding to hospitals to lease more nursing home beds in the short-term for step-down care.

“Government should make a concerted effort to make best use of the community and voluntary non-profit sector while building up public capacity to further reduce reliance on an increasingly small number of large providers.”

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